SFC softball opens season today No. 1


Published: Friday, January 30, 2009 at 10:56 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 30, 2009 at 10:56 p.m.

The 2008 Santa Fe Saints had a dream season, winning the FCCAA State Championship for the first time in school history and advanced all the way to the National Championship game before losing to Wallace State CC (AL).

The 2009 version of the Saints Fastpitch team hopes to capture some of that success when they take the field for the first time this season today against South Florida CC in Avon Park.

The expectations are high once again for Coach Chris Ahern and the Saints, who have won four consecutive Mid-Florida Conference titles and finished last season with a school best 62-5-1 record. The team enters the season as the No. 1 team in the state according to the FCCAA and the No.1 team in the nation according to the NJCAA.

"It's great that our girls have received recognition both in the state and in the nation as a quality team,” said Coach Ahern. “But the team knows they must be grounded and work hard to be able to continue to be a top notch team. They have to stay focused. We want to continue our tradition of succeeding in the classroom and on the ball field."

Santa Fe returns seven players, including 2008 NJCAA First Team All-American centerfielder Brittany Cannon (.494 BA, 23 2B, 15 3B, 9 HR, 62 RBI) who was also the FCCAA State Player of the Year and the Mid-Florida Conference Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year. She set school records for hits, doubles, triples, runs scored and batting average in a season. Cannon was recently named a 2009 NJCAA Preseason First Team-All American.

Also returning are third baseman Kristina Cruz (.324 BA, 7 HR, 34 RBI), outfielder B.B. Jean-Francis (.402 BA, 5 HR, 28 RBI), second baseman Nadirah Nesfield (.344 BA, 6 2B, 30 RBI), outfielder Yahtea Benton (.300 BA, 3 2B, 8 RBI), catcher Brittany Holick (.271 BA, 3 HR, 17 RBI) and shortstop Erika Garcia (.269 BA, 3 HR, 24 RBI).

“If the sophomores repeat their performance from last year and the freshman step up, the talent is definitely there for us to have another good season,” said Coach Ahern.

Joining the returners are 12 newcomers, including two local players from Santa Fe High School in High Springs, OF/IF Morgan Fortson and IF/OF Lawna Hunter.

Freshman pitchers Kim Squires (Jacksonville), Alexandra Savage (Beverly Hills, FL), Brittnee Ayers (Lynn Center, IL) and sophomore Ashley Schmitt (Brandon) will be counted on to help replace the production of All-American Katelyn Murphree. Murphree led the Saints last season in wins, innings pitched and strikeouts and is currently playing with Marshall University (WV).

The Saints signed three players from Pembroke Pines that should make immediate impacts: catcher Maria Gilreath, infielder Carissa Albizu and 1B Dana Ericson.

Freshman OF Britany Doty (Tallahassee), 1B Devin Mathews (Leesburg) and OF Brittany Davis (Madison) round out the Saints roster. All three of those players will also be expected to contribute right away.

Santa Fe will play their first home game on February 6 when Tallahassee CC comes to Gainesville for a double header starting at 2 p.m. The Saints defeated TCC in the State Championship game 8-4 in 2008.

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